Über Cat Power
The cult of Chan (pronounced "Shawn") Marshall runs fathoms deep. Performing and recording under the name Cat Power since the early 1990s, despite the fact that she prefers dogs, Marshall has collected a devout and faithful following who hang on her every syllable. Should you make the mistake of clearing your throat at a Cat Power show or whispering a comment to your friend, be prepared to be aggressively shushed by any one of these people. Her sullen vocal tone, half-finished live songs, heavy-lidded banter, onstage breakdowns as well as her overall shy and demure demeanor have prompted pretentious paralleling to the late Elliott Smith by many a young music journalist. But lumping Marshall's melancholic musings in with those of Smith's is a detriment to the material of both artists. If she has to be compared to anyone, the haunting beauty and burning truth of her songwriting seems more akin to the late, great Townes Van Zandt. Ever since her 1995 debut, Dear Sir it was clear that she could write the kind of songs that reveals the wounded hearts that beats in so many of us. In her teens, Marshall dropped out of high school and moved to New York City to pursue music. It was there that she opened for Liz Phair, catching the attention of Tim Foljahn and Steve Shelley from Two Dollar Guitar and Sonic Youth (respectively). After recording her first two albums with the aforementioned musicians, she was signed to Matador in 1996. The cathartic Moon Pix was released to critical acclaim in 1998 followed by 2000's The Covers Record, a beautifully crafted album that earned many comparisons to Mark Kozelek's method of cover song deconstruction and restoration. But 2003's You Are Free was the sound of Marshall hitting her stride. Comprised of 14 original songs, this album is the one that landed her a radio hit (albeit a small one) and music video for "He War." While the success of this album didn't thrust her into the mainstream, she did gain a lot of press coverage and subsequently began to sell out much larger venues on her tour for the album. While her previous works echoed the sentiments of a girl weighed down by her heartbreak, You Are Free resonated with the revelry of a woman letting go of her demons. Her seventh album, The Greatest, was released on January 24, 2006.